Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unraveling Traveling


Ever since I can remember there has been a desire to travel. 

Only now that statement is no longer that simple. Travel has revealed itself to be a multi faceted devil. Have holidayed, have delved into places, have even explored but off late I dont think I have travelled. 

As I sit on the verge of the annual holiday looming close, I sit down to classify the kinds of travels that I have been on and what each does for me. 


Holiday Travel - Vacationing

I am so stressed dude I need a vacation. I smile whenever I hear this line. For me travelling is not stress reliving its hard work by itself. what with navigation, route planning, new food tasting, walking for ages, its a different kind of tired. How was it a stress buster. I didnt get it, till I was made to discover the idea of a beached whale vacation. 

In my very very limited scope of thinking, its not fair to have this clubbed under travelling - but masses rule. 

Typical Holiday vacations are about:

This word is the license to sleep in, eat a brunch, read a book, eat again, sit, drink, smoke, repeat the same post lunch, and then carry on till late in the night. Change into something elegant for the evening, head for a nice meal, drink more, party a bit and crash late night
   Resort Choices
Choosing the place to stay is usually a crucial part of the planning. One could go to a whole new nation, drive to the resort and not step out till its time to catch the flight. Focus - resort activities, mingling with the people that you have travelled with, at best speaking to the resort staff, sitting by yourself and admiring the sunset is the best adventure and drinking a bottle of the best wine
Other than a hole in the pocket, there are some pictures made, usual facebook updates of plated meals, some sea food that has been unfortunate to make it to your plate and a well posed picture album that may include pictures of you aping the statues of the resort. 


The Traveller Tourist

Maps, Lonely Planet, List of must dos, recommendations from trip advisor, handy history tips, maybe an occasional word of the local language learnt too.

The agenda is to DO DO and DO. Far from being a stress buster, this travel map is all about balancing the stress between the various options available. 

Typical indicators that you are holidaying with one of these would be
There isnt a minute to waste. One lands at the airport and arms themselves with all the brochures available. Reading about all the choices and creating an itineary that balances all the walks, tours, points, museums, palaces, is almost impossible given that there are only 3 days for this one place, 3 for the next and then 3 for the third nation before one heads home. 
   Hotel & Itinerary
A hotel can be anything simple and clean, the focus is to be more out of the room than in. Centerally located, close to a bus/train station is a boon. Quick breakfast and the run is on. Start with the walking tour of the palace, quick lunch of a sandwhich at the city square - check it out, off for the view point look, sunset from the castle tower, post sunset drinks at the gallows of the kings cellar, dine at the famous local diner get a feel of the texture and whew.... exhausted get to the room, hit the pillow and start afresh on day 2
   Take Aways-
checks on the check list. ticks on the bucket list. ticket stubs from the louvre, aching feet and full memory cards. exhaustion from the trip to look at the trip and a lingering feeling that I shall come back one day soon. this time with more time..

The Travelling Traveler

I romanticise this category - I confess upfront 

This for me is the traveller who explores, rolls up his sleeves and starts the process of scratching below the surface. The visitor who comes with or without an agenda, with or without a camera, no brochures, ticking off the Taj Mahal as a added bonus, someone who knows more about why a monument was built and is in no hurry to actually visit it

Typical indicators that you are holidaying with one of these would be
   Being and Doing
Delving into the place is a mixture of being at a central place and doing a lot of things to make it come to life. To add a dash of greater honesty to it, there is sincere effort made to do things like the others from the place. Surveying the new place from the glass panels of a hotel room and window of the chauffer driven car does not qualify
   home and house
Staying is about finding a pad, a couch surfers couch an air bnb, a messy room in the crowded room, the chaos is welcome, the interactions an added advantage
   Take Aways-
Growth, understanding, an expansion of the self. an ability to give up preconceived notions, awareness of your own limitations, knowledge of things that you cant live without, relationships evaluations- making new ones and knowing which ones got cast off. Memories that keep you warm by the fireplace. 

The ability to take the time out to realize that even though you are miles away from home, there is sameness in diversity everywhere you look

There is a special kind of a traveler. 

All the above seem like slices of heaven in comparison ;0

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Re writing

I stare at the blank screen. Doubt plagues me, its been a long time since I wrote. A long time since I actually took the time to do the things on the to do list. A long time since I sat down and made a pause. A long time indeed.

Sitting here, an old foe creeps up. Does this blog really matter? Does anyone really read it? Should I not be writing something deeper. An article perhaps? A comment on Modi. A write up on the floods? A note on the falling Rupee? Something with relevance - depth- economics- politics- big words that I know I ought to feel passionate for but leaves me feeling .. out of depth.

For the now, I feel like a passenger on a train. News, events flow past me like the next paddy field. Registered, noted but leaving no trace no impact.

The things that do leave a trace, are the small innocent mundane moments of daily living. Moments that must come everyday in everyones life. And yet these everyday moments are the ones that slip by from ones memory the fastest.

My 4 month old daughters uncoordinated screams form the backdrop music. She is hoping that her voice lures the rattle closer, or at least gets her mom to stop typing and get her the toys. I smile at her antics.

And right there in that very moment there is a fear that I wont remember this moment. Her face, her wordless screams shall fade away in the file of subconscious memories accessible only on the chair of a hypnotist. Human memory is a vexed instrument.

Months back, was having lunch with a friends mother. A close relative of hers was slowly loosing her memory and taking care of her was a challenge. As the relatives brain lost touch with the continuum of time as we know it - it spiralled and dipped into the past of its own sweet will. Random moments surfaced. Crucial moments were ignored. For example in graphic detail she narrated a story from a time when she was a girl in the unpartitioned Pakistan. Her family had just moved houses. Boxes lined the house. News came that they were to entertain that evening. The table had not yet come. A make shift arrangement was done by lining up the yet to be installed bathroom commodes, putting a pretty table cloth on top and covering it all. She recalled distinctly how she was petrified the man would drop something and bend, uncovering the secret.

Her eyes danced as she recounted this. She looked blankly though at her daughter whom she was sharing this story with. That her brain had forgotten.

Ah memory loss in the old. its ok. its a part of life.
Its not an issue of the old though, its amazing how much we forget.

Sitting today, I wont be able to recall the names of my classmates in class 9. - That was maybe 20 years ago. Or the section that I was in. What was the colour of the school bag that I sported that year? Marks for the maths paper in the final exam? Name of the teacher who taught me history?

Forget school, daily events from a week back are difficult to remember. What it all boils down to are snatches - randomly selected by our brain that remain.

In which case, it makes perfect sense to capture them. A silly diary on an online space. An indulgence for an older me. A support to my weary memory. A space to savour the day gone by. A little bit of an pause.

A memory bank of anecdotes. A databank of memories. For me for my new year of being mommy.